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Samuel Ostroff, PhD Graduate, 2017



Ph.D. Candidate, University of Pennsylvania
M.A., University of Pennsylvania
M.A. with Distinction, Columbia University
B.A., Bucknell University


Samuel was a joint doctoral candidate in History and South Asia Studies. He also pursued a Graduate Certificate in Urban Studies and was affiliated with the Penn Institute for Urban Research. His dissertation examined the Indian Ocean pearl trade in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, focusing on the intersection of economic organization, fisheries management, and Dutch and British empires. During the 2013-2014 summers and academic years, Samuel conducted archival research in India, Netherlands, and United Kingdom. His research has been supported by a Fulbright-Hays DDRA fellowship and grants from the American Historical Association and University of Pennsylvania.


"The Beds of Empire: The Pearl Fisheries of South India and Sri Lanka, c. 1770-1830"


Daud Ali (Advisor), Lisa Mitchell, Ramya Sreenivasan, Jessica Goldberg (UCLA).


Tamil, Telugu, Dutch.

Research Interests

Social and Economic History; Global History; Urban History; Business History; Early Modern South Asian History; Indian Ocean History; Environmental History; Mercantile Networks and Cultures.

Selected Publications

"Between Promise and Peril: Credit and Debt at the Pearl Fisheries of South India and Sri Lanka, c. 1800," in A Cultural History of Credit and Money: A Global Perspective, eds. Thomas Luckett, Chia Yin Hsu, and Erika Vause. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2016.